Written by Sarah Phelps (‘Eastenders’), BBC One mini-series ‘The Casual Vacancy’ has been adapted from JK Rowling’s first post-‘Harry Potter’ novel which was released back in 2012.
Shifting her attention to adult audiences, ‘The Casual Vacancy’ begins with the death of a key figure in the suburban West Country town of Pagford and follows the ensuing turbulent election to fill the vacant spot left on the Parish Council.
The series features ‘Harry Potter’ regular Michael Gambon staring alongside Keeley Hawes (‘Death at a Funeral’), Rory Kinnear (‘Skyfall) and Julia McKenzie (Agatha Christie’s Marple).
The production team working on ‘The Casual Vacancy’ got in touch with Creative England when they were looking for a double for the fictional town of Pagford. Our Production Liaison Manager for the South West of England, Ellie Cook, suggested villages such as Painswick and Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire which were regularly used throughout the shoot alongside Stroud, Northleach and Bisley. Ellie’s knowledge of the local area meant she was able to advice on filming locations and put forward suggestions for buildings that could be used as production bases for ‘The Casual Vacancy’ team.
Our Film Friendly Partnership network was a key element in helping the production run smoothly. Creative England works with 290 local authorities across the country to encourage a film friendly welcome to productions in the regions, and ‘The Casual Vacancy’ required close involvement with both Stroud District Council and the Gloucestershire County Council Highways team. From initial location searches, such as secondary schools in Stroud, to supporting parking suspensions in town squares, Creative England worked closely with the local authorities to ensure all involved were happy with the filming.
Having such a high-profile production on Gloucestershire’s doorstep provided a great opportunity for a set visit from local press and politicians to help raise the profile of filming in the area. Leader of Stroud District Council Geoff Wheeler visited the production and has since entered into an Enhanced Partnership with Creative England to develop extra marketing activity to help promote Stroud District as a viable filming location.
This will involve working with the council to find new filming locations, educate local businesses in what being part of a production can involve, and organising events to help the whole community feel the benefits of what the film industry has to offer.
As well as Painswick and Minchinhampton, several other locations around Gloucestershire were used including Archway School in Stroud, Stroud Police Station, All Saints church in Bisley and the Black Cat Café in Northleach. The production also filmed scenes at Warwick Hall in Burford, Oxfordshire and spent time in the city of Bristol. Silbury Road in Ashton Vale doubled for a housing estate in the novel called The Fields, and filming also took place at Flax Bourton Mortuary in the city. Bristol Film Office assisted with all filming in Bristol.
Creative England was approached to help find a Unit Manager and Location Assistant who had high-end TV drama experience and were local to the Cotswolds.
We were also asked to find a Set Decorator/Buyer, Assistant Art Director and Prop Master. Job posts and tweets were sent out via the Creative England networks and to those registered on our crew database and relevant CVs were passed on for consideration.
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